However, as the 2003 season wore on, Gruden/Mc Kay relationship deteriorated as the Buccaneers struggled on the field.
The Buccaneers looked to improve on their 9–7 record from their 2008 season and 3rd-place finish in the NFC South but failed to do so as they finished the season at 3–13, missing the playoffs for the second straight year.The Buccaneers played seven of their home games at Raymond James Stadium.One of their home games was played at Wembley Stadium, as part of the International Series, in which they lost to the New England Patriots 35–7.The Buccaneers unveiled a Ring of Honor to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1979 franchise.Lee Roy Selmon was the first inductee when the team wore throwback uniforms on November 8 in a game against Green Bay that they won 38–28.
The 2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season began with the team trying to defend its Super Bowl XXXVII title of 2002.
Despite high expectations, several last-minute losses led to locker room tension and front-office struggles.
The Buccaneers finished 7–9, and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1998.
Combined with the Oakland Raiders' dismal 4–12 performance, neither Super Bowl team reached the playoffs that year.
Soon after the Super Bowl victory, a growing number of press reports had indicated Gruden's lack of patience with general manager Rich Mc Kay.
Mc Kay was a major architect of the Buccaneers rebuilding effort over the previous ten years, and he, like Gruden, had long-established ties to the Tampa Bay-area.